In this poem, the speaker looks at "relics" of life beneath the sea and thinks about what they mean, concluding the world beneath the sea is a brutal, unforgiving joyless place.
In the first stanza, the speaker finds a "jawbone" tossed up from the sea onto the beach along with the remains of dead crabs and dogfish. He comments that the sea is cold and unfriendly, a dog-eat-dog (or fish-eat-fish) world.
In the second stanza, the speaker continues to dwell on what it is like under the sea. Down there, he believes, one finds no compassion between creatures: sea animals only touch to gnaw and devour each other. It is a brutal world, and the remains of its battles are cast on the seashore:
Verterbrae, claws, carapaces, skulls.
In stanza three, the theme of the harshness of the sea continues. The narrator states that the "failed" are washed up—meanwhile, for those still down below, life is a struggle in which no creature gets rich or laughs: everything is a fierce fight for survival.
(The entire section contains 3 answers and 633 words.)